BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – The government is in the final stage of drafting legislation to tackle digital security threats, the Minister of Transport and Infocommunications revealed Saturday.

In his budget readout at the Legislative Council, Pg Dato Shamhary Pg Dato Hj Mustapha underlined cybersecurity as a key component in supporting growth of Brunei’s digital economy.

The Cybersecurity Order is intended to strengthen existing laws used to prosecute online attacks on data, infrastructure and networks. 

In 2022, 496 cyber attacks were reported to Brunei’s Computer Emergency Response Team (BruCERT) — 33% were related to social media, 20% involved scams, and the remainder comprised cases of malware, hacking and cyberbullying.

The minister shared that the government is still in the midst of drafting the Personal Data Protection Order, laws that will govern the collection and disclosure of personal data in the private sector.

MTIC tables $163mn budget

MTIC proposed a budget of $163.4 million for the 2023/2024 fiscal year, with 68% allocated for recurring expenses and 32% earmarked for development projects.

Some $34.4 million has been allocated to improve infrastructure and facilities at Brunei International Airport, including repairing runways and upgrading the aerodrome infrastructure, the minister said.

To improve airport safety, $3.4 million has been allocated for upgrading radar systems, installing intrusion detection systems, and upgrading security screening with the latest x-ray machines.

Pg Dato Shamhary said that although passenger and cargo volume is at 30% of the pre-pandemic level, MTIC is taking “proactive steps” to make Brunei International Airport a sub-regional transport hub by strengthening air service agreements, improving passenger experience, increasing cargo capacity and developing more commercial opportunities.  

Another $4.5 million has been dedicated to create a network of automatic weather stations across the country, and replace the airport’s weather observation system.

“This will help the Meteorological Department improve the dissemination of information to the public, especially in providing weather warnings,” the minister said.

To enhance connectivity, a budget of $3 million has also been set aside for the construction of additional telecommunication towers in rural areas.

Boosting ICT infrastructure

MTIC has allocated $2 million to modernise the Government Data Centre and improve cloud infrastructure at the National E-Government Service Centre.

ICT spending is aimed at providing e-government services that utilise the latest technology, Pg Dato Shamhary said, adding that the government will soon use digital identity verification for some online services. 

As of February 2023, e-Darussalam, the main online portal to access government services, has 220,196 registered accounts, of which 191,756 have been activated.

The minister also shared that His Majesty the Sultan has given consent to the Postal Services Order, which will provide the legal basis to privatise postal services.